Category Archives: Travel

Doing the Unexpected

November 15th, 2015 | 12 Comments »
Does your garden suffer from the blahs? You know, that late season feeling when everything looks past its best before date and a walk around the garden drags you down? That's how my garden has been looking recently, and that's how I've been feeling. But I may have found a remedy. To prepare for a short talk I gave last week, I flipped through my photographs of gardens in Scotland and the north of England. Some photos I passed by quickly, others made me stop for a second look. Why?

Read More...

The Walled Garden at Scampston Hall: Variations on a Theme

November 2nd, 2015 | 13 Comments »
What
England's Scampston Hall is known for its Walled Garden designed by the Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf. Within the confines of an 18th century kitchen garden in North Yorkshire, Oudolf created a series of garden 'rooms,' using hedges as walls. Using hedges to divide a garden into discrete spaces is not a new idea, in England or elsewhere. Far from it. At Scampston Hall Oudolf decided to play with this idea, to state it in his own distinctive voice. Treating the 4.5 walled acres/1.8 hectares in a traditional English way, he divided the single giant room

Read More...

Naumkeag, Then and Now

October 25th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
Naumkeag is one of America's finest gardens. Located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and designed over a period of 30 years from 1925-1956, the garden reflects the desires of the last owner, Mabel Choate, and the skills of her friend and collaborator, the landscape architect Fletcher Steele. Pushing the boundaries of the old Beaux Arts traditions, together they took ideas culled from many trips abroad, from the Italian Renaissance to French modernism, and wove them into new forms to create an American masterpiece. In 2007 I visited Naumkeag for the first time. I loved the place --

Read More...

What Makes Sculpture Work?

October 12th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
In the last week I've been visiting gardens and looking at sculpture and art installations, indoors and out. I've visited art museums, gardens where sculpture is integrated into the setting, gardens with temporary sculpture exhibitions and sculpture parks where commissioned pieces are site specific. It's been a fabulous experience, instructive as well as enjoyable. I started my week with a return visit to Naumkeag, the Massachusetts garden created by the landscape architect Fletcher Steele for his friend, client and collaborator Mabel Choate. Sculptural elements are incorporated into this garden in a particularly effective

Read More...

Home Again — and Happy To Be Here

September 21st, 2015 | 6 Comments »
  What a pleasure it is to return to Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec, after three weeks spent visiting gardens in Scotland and England. Seeing so many amazing places there,  I was worried that my own garden would be a disappointment. It wasn't. It isn't. Yes, I can see dozens of things, large and small, that need attention, but to return to a vegetable garden overflowing with produce and a landscape that never fails to delight makes me glad to be home.   [caption id="attachment_2791" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The shrub border

Read More...

Shaping the Earth

September 16th, 2015 | 8 Comments »
Over the last week, as part of a tour I've been leading through gardens in Scotland and the north of England, I've been fortunate enough to see four earth works created by Charles Jencks. Jencks is an American architectural theorist, writer and landscape architect who has lived in Scotland for many years and now divides his time between lecturing, writing, and designing in the USA, the UK, and Europe. There are similarities between the four projects I saw, but each is based on an idea derived from contemporary science. And while the

Read More...

Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens

September 6th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
The Princes Street Gardens sit in the centre of Edinburgh, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. They were created in the late 1700s and early 1800s after a loch, originally part of the castle's defences, was drained.   [caption id="attachment_2732" align="aligncenter" width="1224"] The castle hill was a volcano 350 million years ago.  Railway tracks run in the moat that used to protect the castle.[/caption]     The gardens are divided in two sections, East and West, that together cover some 37.5 acres (154,000 sq metres). They are the best known  public

Read More...

I Tatti: A Garden Review

June 21st, 2015 | 6 Comments »
The Italian Villa I Tatti sits in the foothills east of Florence in a stony landscape pockmarked by quarries that supplied the pietra serena for Renaissance Florence. Built in the 16th century and renovated in the early 1900s for the American art dealer Bernard Berenson and his wife Mary Pearsall Smith, the villa and garden located in Settignano are now owned by Harvard University. Berenson's donation allowed Harvard to create The Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. To maintain the atmosphere of contemplation conducive to the exchange of ideas that Berenson believed

Read More...

My Luscious Backyard

June 7th, 2015 | 16 Comments »
I'm in Toronto, Ontario for the annual get-together of garden lovers who write online about gardens and gardening. This is the eighth Garden Bloggers Fling -- and it's an exhausting and exhilarating few days of garden visits and garden talk. Our program started earlier this week with a visit to a downtown Toronto garden where Sarah Nixon operates a small business growing flowers in her own backyard and in ten other yards in her west Toronto neighbourhood. She calls herself an urban farmer, or a floral forager. I'd call her

Read More...

Revisiting Villa d’Este

May 31st, 2015 | 8 Comments »
It's a commonplace to say that a garden is different each time you see it, but my most recent visit to Villa d'Este at Tivoli confirmed that some truisms really are true: you can’t step in the same water twice. Not that I was stepping in water. I was surrounded by it, however, since water in all its guises is the most memorable feature of Villa d’Este. Constructed between 1550 - 1572, this garden exemplifies the High Renaissance style. Every inch of the site is ordered and symmetrical, everything is scaled

Read More...